Switching gears: Gas station aims to fuel customer loyalty with full service at the pumps
The Wheels Citgo gas station at 1096 Post Road is offering something new, or at least something most people haven't seen for a long time -- full service. Station personnel began pumping gas and cleaning windshields last month.
The station's customer base is growing, and the drivers who seem to enjoy it the most are college students and drivers in their 20s, the station attendants reported recently as they walked briskly from car to car.
"Most people like it," said Amy Curran, a station attendant and Fairfield resident. "The college kids -- the younger kids -- like it more."
The manager, Kenya Washington, agreed. Younger drivers especially seem to appreciate the service, she said, but almost every driver says they're happy with the change. And if they don't want full service, they'll politely be asked to go elsewhere.
What makes the full service so attractive to customers, the women agreed, is that the gas is the same price per gallon at the Citgo, which sits at the busy corner of Post and Round Hill roads, as at the self-service Cumberland Farms station across the Post Road.
"It's easier," said Stephanie Hoyt, of Fairfield, as she bought snacks at the Citgo convenience store after having her gas pumped. She took advantage of the full service for the first time one morning a few weeks ago on her way to work. "I didn't feel like getting out of the car," she said.
She plans to stop by the station for full service when it is late at night, which she feels would offer greater safety, as well as during bad weather. "I definitely like it," she said.
Dr. Andrea Bachrach, of Fairfield, said she had fueled her car at the Citgo station before it was full service, and likes it even better now that she gets gas pumped for her. "The people here are friendly and cooperative -- and I don't have to get out of the car," she said.
Another Wheels Citgo station in Fairfield, at 2047 Post Road, is not self service. However, the manager there, Robert Polce, said that full service would be offered if a customer asked. "If anyone needs help, we'll be more than happy to do it," he said.
The person answering the phone at the Cumberland Farms station across the street from the full-service Citgo declined to comment, other than to say the station is self-service.
A steady stream of cars pulled up to the full-service Citgo pumps on a recent weekend, with a mixture of both men and women, young and older, taking advantage of the service. Some customers arrived in vans or pickup trucks, and another drove up in a new Porsche.
Station employees have had to do some explaining since customers don't expect the full service they get, according to Jason Lewis, a station attendant who has worked there for five years. "People thought there would be extra charges -- there weren't," he said.
There have been a few drivers who have been concerned about their cars being filled by someone else, particularly drivers with more expensive cars. Curran said one woman with a Porsche wanted to make sure that the attendant filled the tank carefully, so the pricey car wouldn't be scratched or damaged.
"Some people are very particular," Curran said.
Most customers are accepting the new service with pleasure, the station's attendants agreed, but if they don't -- they are asked to go somewhere else.
The Citgo station hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sundays 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.